By Engen Tham and Julie Zhu (Reuters) - Top Chinese banks are rushing to ensure they can maintain business ties with Russian clients without running afoul of a barrage of Western sanctions, people with knowledge of the matter told Reuters. Western nations are tightening an economic noose around Russia following its invasion of Ukraine, shutting its banks from the SWIFT global financial network and pushing global firms to dump billions in investment. While the Chinese banking regulator said this week the country would not join the West's sanctions on Russia, some of its banks have stopped issui...
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For young Ukrainian geeks, making drones -- for reconnaissance or destruction -- in a house basement near the Donbas frontline is "new generation" guerrilla warfare.
In dim light, the 20-somethings busily piece together electronic components spread out on tables, with the help of laptops and documents, while artillery fire thuds in the background.
Next the repair room next door -– a laundry room before the war -- drones are patched up using spare parts taken from aircraft damaged "in battle" against the Russians.
In the garden shed meanwhile, a 19-year-old, whose nom de guerre is Varnak, transforms grenades designed for grenade launchers into bombs to be dropped from drones.
You just add fins to them and change the detonation system, he tells AFP, smiling.
"I manage explosives here in my section... We work on grenades and create homemade explosive objects", says the young man, who joined the unit after responding to an announcement on Twitter.
He inscribes personalized messages for the enemy on the miniature bombs, including "Victory -- and happy birthday!" and "People who live without freedom have bad taste".
In the house garage, a platform covered with electronics is mounted on four wheels where the team puts finishing touches to a kamikaze drone able to carry an anti-tank mine, or any other type of explosive.
A heavy machine gun waits meanwhile in the corner to be transformed into a robotic firing station.
Aktor ("Actor" in Ukrainian) was a student at the Igor Sikorsky Technical University in Kyiv when Russia launched its invasion in February. Today, he wears a uniform and works on "robotics" to perfect kamikaze drones.
For him, these technologies can make a difference in the conflict in Ukraine "because the current war ... is a new generation war".
"It is no longer people with weapons who wage war but robotic vehicles, with a very high technical level", says the 22-year-old.
"Why should one soldier shoot another when you have a robot that can deliver a ton of explosives to an ammunition dump?" he asks.
The group's founder and leader, Zmiy ("Snake" in Ukrainian), is a bearded veteran of the conflict that began in 2014 in the Donbas, eastern Ukraine.
Zmiy, who wears rimmed glasses and a baseball cap decorated with a US flag, says the group comprises about 40 men and women.
Its core team are veterans like him.
"All the others who build and invent devices joined us via Twitter. They are volunteers," he tells AFP.
A short distance from their base and less than two kilometers (1.2 miles) from the Russian lines, Mikho the navigator and 11 the pilot prepare a drone for a bomb drop on Russian positions.
Amid constant artillery exchanges, the two men attached a bomb under the drone, a US-made model commercially available for around 3,000 euros ($2,900).
Guided by Mikho, 11 observes the Russian positions on his screen. Then he releases the bomb, which falls vertically and crashes down, exploding in a cloud of smoke.
Immediately, the Russian soldiers' assault rifles crackle. The Russians try to destroy the device, which hovers about 300 meters (984 feet) above them. But the drone return to the Ukrainian side unscathed.
© 2022 AFP
‘We have incredible things’: Trump surprised NYT reporter last year by boasting he kept White House documents
The New York Times reporter revealed in her forthcoming book, "Confidence Man: The Making of Donald Trump and the Breaking of America," that the former president told her Sept. 16, 2021, at his club in Bedminster, New Jersey, that he mentioned that he had held onto some government records that should have been sent to the National Archives, according to excerpts published by Axios.
"He demurred when I asked if he had taken any documents of note upon departing the White House — 'nothing of great urgency, no,' he said, before mentioning the letters that Kim Jong-un had sent him, which he had showed off to so many Oval Office visitors that advisers were concerned he was being careless with sensitive material," Haberman reported.
Haberman expressed surprise that he took those letters, which he eventually returned months later after the National Archives demanded them.
"He kept talking, seeming to have registered my surprise, and said, 'No, I think that’s in the archives, but … Most of it is in the archives, but the Kim Jong-un letters … We have incredible things,'" Haberman wrote.
The FBI searched Trump's home last month at Mar-a-Lago, where they seized more than 11,000 documents and 1,800 other items, including about 100 classified materials -- including some marked "top secret," and the search warrant shows investigators believe he may have violated the Espionage Act and other laws.
'Trump has reason to worry' after Letitia James exposed his 'family’s financial shadiness': legal expert
According to Kimberly Wehle, who teaches at American University’s Washington College of Law, the case laid out by New York Attorney General Letitia James against Donald Trump and his family should cause them to lose a great deal of sleep due to the massive amount of documentary evidence she has amassed over three years.
As she wrote for the Bulwark, the former president and his family have been allowed to engage in shady business dealings for decades and now, with the lawsuit seeking $250 million filed, James has shone a light on the massive amount of financial fraud that makes up their fortune.
As she wrote, Trump "has reason to worry" about James' "definitive tome of the Trump family’s financial shadiness. Its seven-count civil complaint reflects the work of a three-year investigation involving over 65 witnesses and millions of pages of documents, yet covering a single decade of Trump’s career, 2011 to 2021."
Noting some particularly egregious examples of overstating the value of Trump properties -- including his pride and joy, the Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida -- Wehle wrote that James could destroy Trump's empire by banning him from all real estate dealings in New York -- but the real kicker is the fine she seeks from the Trump family.
"This request from James is the biggie," she wrote before quoting from the filing that states, "Awarding disgorgement of all financial benefits obtained by each Defendant from the fraudulent scheme, including all financial benefits from lenders and insurers through repeated and persistent fraudulent practices of an amount to be determined at trial but estimated to be $250,000,000, plus . . . interest."
"James wants Trump to pay back the investors and insurance companies," she added. "The implications of the lawsuit for Trump’s financial future are nonetheless significant... We’ll just have to wait and see whether Letitia James finally puts an end to Trump’s winning streak against the rule of law."
You can read more here.